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Welcome to the blog of The Killer Nacho, known to most mortals as Timothy J. Sharpe, a Computer Science graduate of Messiah College and currently a Systems Analyst for Sunoco Logistics. Within this tome of pages, one will find my innermost thoughts about various things concerning things that I enjoy. These subjects include, but are not limited to, roleplaying, gaming, American Football (the NFL), things to do with computers, philosophy, movies that are awesome, TV shows that are awesome, my own writings and creative works, and dangerous Mexican snacks.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings and Predictions: League still ruled by AFC North juggernauts

Week 5 was full of surprises and action, and the power rankings in a lot of ways get even more confusing and shaken up. Let's see where each team falls after a surprising Week 5. I will also be keeping track how far teams rise / fall weekly from the previous week. This is marked after team record. Each week, a team will be rewarded as the "biggest winner" and "biggest loser", which marks the team(s) that rose or fell the farthest from the previous week. I will also be keeping track of my prediction accuracy... which I really need to improve, haha.

Biggest Winner: New York Giants (+9)
Biggest Loser: Houston Texans (-10)

1. Baltimore Ravens (4-1, +0): A convincing win over a good Denver team only solidifies their position at #1 in the NFL further. Ray Rice got back to running the football like Ray Rice. And the defense continues to play well.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1, +0): It will be interesting to see next week how Ben Roethlisberger plays. Early reports say he looks better than ever. If that is the case, Pittsburgh could be in store for a special run this season. Even after a bye week, no team really showed that they should be #2 instead of the Steelers.

3. Atlanta Falcons (4-1, +0): Hey, I still have the Falcons at #3. They got past the possible trap game against the Browns last week. Michael Turner was having a disappointing season prior to this game, but had a good YPC of 7.4 against an underrated Browns defense. Roddy White again proves he is an elite WR. Interesting match-up next week as they travel to Philadelphia to face the former face-of-the-franchise Michael Vick.

4. New York Jets (4-1, +1): Mark Sanchez has not thrown an interception in the last four games, and it shows as they have four wins in that time. Their offense isn't great, but their defense is. Shout out to Antonio Cromartie, who played better than anyone could have expected against Randy Moss. As long as Sanchez is safe with the football and they can keep running the ball well behind one of the game's best Offensive Lines with LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene, they remain extremely tough to beat. Honestly, there are very few true weaknesses of this team. Although with the two 3rd-and-long touchdown passes that Brett Favre threw against them last week, you do start to wonder if some teams have decrypted Rex Ryan's famous blitz packages.

5. Indianapolis Colts (3-2, +2): They were able to defeat the formerly undefeated Chiefs on defense. Their win really showed a lot of the resiliency of this team. My one worry is how this team plays on the road. They have 17 consecutive wins at home in which Peyton Manning has finished the game. Can they win on the road? This will determine if the Colts are able to overcome their early two losses.

6. New England Patriots (3-1, +2): Their increase this week is really more about other teams dropping than them improving, since this was their bye week. However, I will be interested to see how this team fares without Randy Moss. They did reacquire WR Deion Branch for a fourth-round pick to replace him has a deep threat. I suppose we'll find out how they fare next week as they take on the #1 Baltimore Ravens.

7. New York Giants (3-2, +9): Man this team has really proven me wrong. They looked absolutely amazing last week against the Houston Texans, in all facets of the game. On defense, they got back to the defensive dicipline they were known for in 2007. The key was stopping the previously-top-ranked rushing attack lead by Arian Foster. They also got pressure on Matt Schaub for three sacks and allowed him to complete less than half of his passes for only 196 yards and an interception. On offense, Eli Manning is starting to get on the same page as his young receiving corp. Both Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith had phenomenal games. Granted, they won't have the pleasure of playing the Houston defense every week, but the point is they have the talent to score points.

8. Kansas City Chiefs (3-1, +2): You may think I'm crazy about increasing their ranking after a loss, but I liked what I saw from the Chiefs in this loss. They faced a hard matchup against a more talented team in their own home turf, but still played for the most part solid mistake-free football. The Chiefs defense is legit. The real question is, will Matt Cassel step up and take this team to the next level? They do have two good backs to help him in Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (3-2, +4): Good win last week, not falling to a hungry 49ers team. They are becoming real road-warriors, 3-0 on the road and 0-2 at home. Something else to note is that their two losses have been games in which their starting QB has gotten injured early in the game. Losing ones starting QB often drastically changes a team's game-plan... especially in cases of QBs of radically different styles like Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb. If it weren't for these injuries, they may be better than 3-2 right now. Now we have to see if they can win at home against the hot Atlanta Falcons. If Michael Vick is ready to go again and LeSean McCoy is back to his full strength, they could do it.

10. Chicago Bears (4-1, +8): Blah, blah, blah. I'm putting this team this high despite my better judgment. Yes, their defense is legit. They carried the team against the Carolina Panthers. If the defense can continue to carry their below average offense, this team could see a playoff birth. They keep winning games, and that is what is really important. I can't argue with 4-1.

11. San Diego Chargers (2-3, +0): Whose Special Teams is worse, San Diego's or Miami's? Let the debate begin... Two of their losses, against Seattle and this week against Oakland can be directly associated to Special Teams. Still, Special Teams is part of the game. Despite this, I still have them at #11. San Diego has a good team. They have an explosive offense and a solid defense. Philip Rivers has been amazing this season with a resurgent Antonio Gates and coming-of-age WR Malcom Floyd, who is making Chargers fans think "Vincent Who?"

12. New Orleans Saints (3-2, -8): Huge fall for the reigning champs. This entire season they have not looked like the explosive team that won the Super Bowl last season. They have been letting bad teams hang around games, which opens the door to losses. This week, they lost against an Arizona team that had looked horrible on both sides of the ball so far this season, and who was starting an undrafted rookie QB. Drew Brees had a bad game. The Saints offense looked slow, the Saints defense looked slow. Maybe part of it is the loss of their top two RB, Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, but that can't be an excuse for a team who is looking to repeat their championship.

13. Tennessee Titans (3-2, +1): Played a complete game against the Cowboys last week. They looked explosive on both sides of the ball. Chris Johnson ran like Chris Johnson again, and Vince Young is starting to play like they thought he would when he was drafted 3rd overall. Opponents beware - they are a serious contender for the AFC South or a wildcard spot.

14. Green Bay Packers (3-2, -5): Horrible game by the Pack last week against Washington. Yes, they had some bad injuries during the game but when you dominate in the statistical category, you need to score points. Dominating in the 1st half and yet only scoring 13 when you are supposed to have the most explosive offense in the league is going to kill you. In overtime, once again they killed themselves with penalties when the game was on the line. Next week they face a solid Dolphins team with a strong possibility of having some of their best players out... including Aaron Rodgers, who was confirmed to have suffered a concussion against Washington. The new NFL concussion rules makes it likely he will sit out at least one week. Jermichael Finley and Nick Barnett are not so lucky, they will require surgery and could miss several week or the entire season.

15. Miami Dolphins (2-2, -3): How they respond after coming off two division losses and a bye week will determine how this team plays for the remainder of the season. They caught a few breaks last week when Green Bay was banged up by Washington, it is their game to lose. They have a solid defense and their offense has potential. The question is whether or not their Special Teams can improve after the firing of former-ST coordinator John Bonamego. They hope MLB Channing Crowder will be ready to go for the first time this season after injury, since Karlos Dansby has said he is better with Crowder with him as a ILB duo. So far this season, they have tried to fill that void with Bobby Carpenter and Tim Dobbins... but it just isn't the same.

16. Houston Texans (3-2, -10): Question... do the Texans just suck against NFC East teams, or is this just a sign of a much larger problem at the core of their defense? I think the latter. This defensive secondary has looked awful. Ranked 32nd in pass defense in the league means it does not matter how good your offense is, any team is going to have a chance to beat you. And now that their top-ranked rush offense lead by Arian Foster got completely shut down by the Giants last week, one has to really question how they were able to get their three wins to begin with. 

17. Minnesota Vikings (1-3, +0): The Vikings picked up Randy Moss from the New England Patriots for a third-round pick last week to help them open up a pass offense that has been horrendous all season. While they were shut down in the First half against the Jets on Monday Night, Randy Moss and Percy Harvin were finally able to get some separation for Brett Favre in the second half. Almost got the upset last week. Despite this disheartening loss to leave them at an unbelievable 1-3, the Vikings showed they can be dynamic on offense against one of the best defenses in football. And that Vikings defense continues to play well too, keeping them in games. Easily the most dangerous one-win team in the league.

18. Washington Redskins (3-2, +2): They are winning games which is the point at the end of the day. Still, one has to wonder if they would've really won against the Packers if it wasn't for all of the injuries and the Pack's own mistakes. I strongly believe that the game was one that the Packers lost more than the Skins won. Still, the Redskins are leading the NFC East right now. I'm just not sure they have the talent to keep up with Philadelphia or New York. They are still struggling on offense to find their rhythm behind QB Donovan McNabb, and their defense has been inconsistent at best.

19. Denver Broncos (2-3, -4): Had a tough match-up at Baltimore, the loss was not surprising although I thought they'd put up a bit more of a challenge then they did. Ray Rice ran all over them. However, I will say that the pass offense lead by Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd looked impressive, especially considering Baltimore was ranked #1 against the pass prior to this game. Why would they draft Tim Tebow when Kyle Orton is this good? He has completed 141/123 (66.2%) passes this season, thrown for 1733 yards, eight touchdowns and only three interceptions for a QB rating of 97.8. Wow.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1, +4): Big win coming off a bye against the Bengals. They didn't win pretty, but sometimes you have to win ugly on the road. Their defense forced Carson Palmer to throw three interceptions, including a pick six by rookie Cody Grimm and a game-ending interception by Sabby Piscitelli. Although if they want to be able to really compete this season they must get better on offense. Cadillac Williams did not run well, which puts more pressure on young QB Josh Freeman. But hey, they're 3-1. 

21. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2, +1): It is amazing how well QB David Garrard can play when it looks like his job is on the line. Rookie RB Deji Karim played well as a change-of-pace back to give Maurice Jones-Drew a breather with second-string Rashad Jennings out, and played well when Jones-Drew went out temporarily due to injury. And TE Marcedes Lewis is starting to look like an elite receiving TE.

22. Seattle Seahawks (2-2, +1): They will face the Chicago Bears coming off the bye week. They will need their offense to score more than 3 points in order to win... but can they against a Bears defense that could be among the best in the league? That remains to be seen. But anyone has a chance to win the NFC West... Seattle is probably still the favorite, as sad as that is.

23. Arizona Cardinals (3-2, +4): After looking awful all season, they pull a surprising upset against the former World Champion Saints in a game where undrafted rookie QB Max Hall was making his first NFL start. He didn't look spectacular, and got pretty lucky to fumble the ball and still end up with a touchdown, but he made some plays and showed some promise. The real story was how much the Cardinals defense stepped up. They picked off Saints QB Drew Brees thrice, including an athletic pick six by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to put the game virtually out of reach for the Saints. 

24. Dallas Cowboys (1-3, -5): Once again, Dallas proves they cannot put together a consistent gameplan twice in a row. It's such a shame that all this talent on this Dallas Cowboys team is going to waste... it is very hard for any team to come back from 1-3, and now they are in a division in which all of their rivals are 3-2 and have shown some positive things this week. The season is not over for these Cowboys, but they are a couple of losses away of it being over. The margin for error now is minimal. 

25. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3, -4): They are just not that talented. They gave Carson Palmer a solid defense and all the weapons he needs to be successful this season, and he continues to show inconsistent play and throw interceptions. There was no excuses for them to lose against Tampa Bay last week. The loss is entirely on Carson's shoulders. I would not be surprised if a change was made sooner than later regarding Carson's starting status.

26. Oakland Raiders (2-3, +4): Despite being virtually handed the game last week courtesy of San Diego's special teams and early offensive mistakes, they proved that they can win football games under Tom Cable. I was wrong when I said last week they lacked the talent to compete against good teams, they proved it this week. It wasn't all special teams, Jason Campbell was able to lead his team to two long drives for touchdowns towards the end of the game for the Raiders win (and likely earn his job back in the process). And they did all this without star RB Darren McFadden. Can they continue this newfound success when they travel across the bay to challenge the winless 49ers?

27. Detroit Lions (1-4, +1): Talk about a statement win. The Detroit Lions have played good football against good teams all season even without starting QB Matthew Stafford, and to get this kind of win says a lot, despite that they were only the Rams. They play good defense, and have enough talent on offense that they can score at any point they have the ball. I strongly believe you will see them get plenty more wins this season.

28. Cleveland Browns (1-4, -2): A loss is a loss, but they remain a dangerous team. Still played good defense against Atlanta, their style of play really gives them a chance to win against anybody. They won't be going anywhere this season in terms of playoffs, but they are on the right track. Also, they are a lot better with Seneca Wallace under center. He proved to me that he deserves the starting position over Jake Delhomme. Before Wallace went down with injury, the Browns were leading 7-6. They ended up losing 20-10, in part due to mistakes made by Delhomme in the second half. If they want a chance to pull off an upset against Pittsburgh next week, they better hope Wallace is ready to go. If not, it looks like rookie QB Colt McCoy may get his first start.

29. St. Louis Rams (2-3, -4): They begged to be noticed, and now they are noticed. For being blown out by a winless Detroit Lions team. To make matters worse for the Rams, it has been revealed that WR Mark Clayton's injury will be season-ending. Which is a shame because Clayton was looking like he was developing into a true #1 WR finally. Now, without both Clayton and Donnie Avery for the season, they will be in serious trouble. I wonder if they will look into trying to trade for San Diego WR Vincent Jackson, now? Rookie QB Sam Bradford needs someone to throw to.

30. San Francisco 49ers (0-5, -1): While an 0-5 record speaks for itself, it would be a fatal mistake for ANY team to overlook the 49ers. Mike Singletary is an emotional head coach, and he and his team are hungry for a win. Despite their losses, they have shown several moments of brilliance. With a very good defense lead by possibly the best MLB in the game, Patrick Willis, and some huge playmaking talents on offense like Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, and Vernon Davis... call me crazy but, they could beat anyone. 

31. Carolina Panthers (0-5, +0): Once again, the Carolina offensive line gets abused. Without one, you cannot run the football and cannot give your QB enough time to throw the ball. Matt Moore... Jimmy Clausen... the QB does not matter until you can give him more than a second to find an open receiver. It did not help that their one WR threat, Steve Smith, was out with injury. Julius Peppers just destroyed his former team last week.

32. Buffalo Bills (0-5, +0): Still the worst team in the league, and showed nothing to prove otherwise at home against Jacksonville last week. That's all that really needs to be said. The one bright spot of this team is that it looks like Ryan Fitzpatrick is developing into a solid starter... or maybe it was just because he was playing the Jacksonville defense, not really sure.

Predictions for Week 6

Prediction accuracy for Week 5: 6-8 (42.9%)
Overall prediction accuracy:  6-8 (42.9%)

Michael Vick may be looking forward to playing his former team.
Atlanta (4-1) @ Philadelphia (3-2): Philadelphia by 3. Hard to predict since I believe it will heavily depend on whether or not Michael Vick is able to play, but I'm going to go with the Eagles. Michael Vick will be highly motivated to play well against Atlanta, for obvious reasons. I think the Eagles will be able to get their first home win of the season... maybe. Atlanta is a good team.

Cleveland (1-4) @ Pittsburgh (3-1): Pittsburgh by 14. I think we will see a huge statement game by the returning Ben Roethlisberger. At home against the worst team in the division coming off a bye-week with your elite QB coming back from suspension, the Steelers should win this game convincingly.

Detroit (1-4) @ New York Giants (3-2): New York Giants by 10. While the Lions are coming off their first win of the season, a blow out no less, the Giants also have huge momentum coming off a huge blowout win against a good Texans team, too. The Giants have the better team and their defense is really starting to come together.

Baltimore (4-1) @ New England (3-1): Baltimore by 3. Baltimore has one of the best defenses in the league, and have an offense that is rapidly coming together. There is a reason why I have them ranked #1 on my Power Rankings for two weeks straight. Without Randy Moss to act as a deep threat, this makes the Baltimore Defense's job even easier. It won't be a blow out because that is really not the Ravens' style, but I think Tom Brady will struggle with the Baltimore defense able to tighten up to stop the run and Wes Welker. And I doubt the Patriots will be able to shut down Baltimore's dynamic offense.

If Aaron Rodgers can't go due to his concussion, it will benefit Miami.
Green Bay (3-2) @ Miami (2-2): Miami by 7. Green Bay's injuries and mistakes on all facets of the game have opened the door for teams to defeat them this season. They'll be without a lot of their biggest stars like Jermichael Finley, and may also be without even more depending on how the week goes for Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. This opens the door for a Miami team that is coming off of its bye week hungry for a win after being embarrassed in two prime-time games against divisional rivals.

San Diego (2-3) @ St. Louis (2-3): San Diego by 14. Barring another Special Teams breakdown, San Diego should win this game easily. The Rams will struggle on offense with their top receiver out for the season against a good San Diego defense, and Philip Rivers should be able to light this defense up. After all, if the Lions can do it...

New Orleans (3-2) @ Tampa Bay (3-1): New Orleans by 7. Tampa Bay has a lot of momentum and of course the NFC South curse on their side (that the lowest place team last season will make the playoffs the following year), but the Saints despite their poor play this season is the better team. Tampa Bay, if they want to win this game, will have to rely on getting turnovers on defense like last week. On the other side of the coin, Drew Brees needs to be safe with the football and avoid turnovers like the ones he committed last week at Arizona.

Kansas City (3-1) @ Houston (3-2): Houston by 3. If Kansas City wants to keep their edge over San Diego and Denver in the AFC West, they will want to win this game. However, Houston will work hard to avoid a second-straight loss that would put them behind in their four-way tie on top of the AFC South. At home, I like the Texans but it could go either way.

Seattle (2-2) @ Chicago (4-1): Chicago by 3. Damn, the Bears keep getting these easy games on their schedule. Looking at their schedule, they could really be 7-1 after the next three-game stretch. After that though their schedule starts to get very challenging. Seattle could win this game coming off a bye, and really needs to to show initiative in the crap-shoot that is the NFC West, but Chicago's defense may be too much for them.

New York Jets (4-1) @ Denver Broncos (2-3): New York Jets by 3. The Broncos could win this game since Kyle Orton is an accurate passer, the kind of QB that does well against the Jets, but the Jets have a better running game and a better defense especially with injuries on the Broncos defense. Will be an interesting test for both teams. Kyle Orton will be tested again, as well as Darrelle Revis who should be attempting to cover Brandon Lloyd.

Mike Singletary is an emotional coach hungry for a win.
Oakland (2-3) @ San Francisco (0-5): Oakland by 3. Like I said, San Francisco is a hungry and emotional team and could very well pull off the upset here. But I'm going to go with my head and gut and go with the Raiders. Both teams can compete with anyone and this should be quite an interesting battle in the Bay.

Dallas (1-3) @ Minnesota (1-3): Minnesota by 7. This is a battle between two teams whose seasons have not started the way they expected. Dallas has been too inconsistent and relatively poor at defending against the run this season. Since they can no longer stack the box against Adrian Peterson due to the Vikings obtaining Randy Moss, I think Peterson will eat this defense up. And the Vikings defense is actually a very good squad, they should be able to shut down the Dallas run attack at home and could also force some turnovers from Tony Romo.

Indianapolis (3-2) @ Washington (3-2): Indianapolis by 10. Washington is not a very talented team, but they have over-performed. Indianapolis is a very talented team but has under-performed. I think Peyton Manning will likely light up this Washington defense like Matt Schaub did. And unlike the Houston defense, the Indianapolis defense is coming off a huge win and a powerful showing against the once-winless Chiefs. The defensive weakness for the Colts is the offensive weakness for the Redskins without Clinton Portis ... running the ball.

Tennessee (3-2) @ Jacksonville (3-2): Tennessee by 7. An exciting AFC South matchup for Monday Night football in a division which is currently in a four-way tie, I believe the Titans are the better football team. They are coming off a promising win in which they have showed explosvie potential in all facets of their game against a talented Dallas team. The Jaguars simply beat the Bills.

Byes: Arizona (3-2), Buffalo (0-5), Carolina (0-5), Cincinnati (2-3)

Results of Last Week's Poll

Last week, I asked my readers "Best Winless Team in the NFL right now?" between the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, and San Francisco 49ers.

The winner of the poll was the San Francisco 49ers with 66% of the vote, with second place belonging to the Detroit Lions. There were no votes for the Buffalo Bills or Carolina Panthers. Although it seems I was ultimately correct, since I voted for the Detroit Lions and they are the only one who came away with a win last week.

This week's poll is  "Which long-term injury sustained this season will be most of a problem for their team moving forward?" between Jermichael Finley of the Packers, Michael Clayton of the Rams, Sidney Rice of the Vikings, Ryan Grant of the Packers, or Clinton Portis of the Redskins?

Vote on the right-sidebar of my blog!

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